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Tanzania lifts study ban for teenage mothers

Tanzania announced its decision to allow pregnant students and teenage mothers to continue their education on Wednesday, November 24, sweeping aside a much-criticized ban put in place by its late leader, John Magufuli. In 2017, the country began expelling pregnant girls from state schools and banning them from returning to school after giving birth, a move criticized by human rights activists, who called for the repeal of the law. law.

After the death of John Magufuli this year, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who succeeded him as head of state, sought to break with some of the policies pursued by the autocrat. Education Minister Joyce Ndalichako said on Wednesday that « Pregnant schoolgirls will be allowed to continue their studies after childbirth ». “I will be issuing a flyer later today. There’s no time to lose « , she said during a ceremony in Dodoma, the capital.

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John Magufuli had sworn that no student who became pregnant would complete their studies under his tenure, saying it was immoral for young girls to be sexually active. “I give money for a student to study for free. And then she gets pregnant, gives birth and after that, goes back to school. No, not under my mandate ”he said in 2017. At that time, Human Rights Watch published a report in which the NGO said school officials in Tanzania were performing pregnancy tests with a view to expelling pregnant students.

An announcement welcomed by the World Bank

The move was widely criticized by human rights groups and international donors, who cut funding to the country in response to Magufuli’s policies. The World Bank had thus frozen a loan of 300 million dollars (265 million euros) intended for girls’ education. « The World Bank welcomes the announcement of the Tanzanian government on the lifting of barriers to access education », the organization reacted on Wednesday.

The opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo) welcomed its successful efforts:  » We have succeeded ! A clear example of a struggle on many fronts ”, declared its leader, Zitto Kabwe.

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President from 2015, nicknamed the “Bulldozzer” for his strong leadership, John Magufuli, 61, officially died on March 18 of heart problems. But his main opponent says the leader, who has consistently downplayed the impact of the coronavirus and refused to take action to stem the pandemic, died of Covid-19.

Taking over from John Magufuli, the new president has broadly revised the late president’s policies, pledging to defend democracy and fundamental freedoms and re-allow banned media. But the arrest at the end of July of the leader of the main opposition party, Freeman Mbowe, denounced by associations and Western countries, qualified this rupture. Mr. Mbowe is currently on trial for « terrorism ».

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